Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Pray for Peace and Protection Today

Offer up a prayer for the protection of your loved ones, not only against terrorism but against all the evil in the world.

Avoid Times Square, Planes Flying from Europe to U.S.

Says U.S. Congressman.

From New York Post Online Edition: news:

"Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) offered his regrets yesterday, telling The Post that he'd avoid the Times Square crowd because it's a 'tempting target' for terrorists.

'I wouldn't go to Times Square. That is my opinion. It is one based on the reality that the government has declared a Code Orange,' said Shays.

Air safety also worries Shays - 'I wouldn't be flying from Europe to the U.S. in an airplane,' he said.

Shays, who chairs a House subcommittee that deals with terror issues, said officials shouldn't make citizens think that, despite the heightened terror alert, they need not take precautions.

'We need to be straight with people,' he said.

He especially ripped Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge's suggestion that people go on with their normal lives. "

Has Anyone Heard that Ron Zook is Going to the NFL?

Steve Spurrior resigns:

""I am announcing my resignation as head coach of the

Washington Redskins effective today, December 30, 2003.

""I thank Dan Snyder for the opportunity to coach this

team for the past two years and I apologize to Redskins fans

that we did not achieve a level of success that we had all


""This is a very demanding job. It's a long grind and I

feel that after 20 years as a head coach, there are other

things that I need to do. I appreciate all the support,

especially from former Redskins players in the area and

again, I wish we would have come closer to the success those

players enjoyed under Coach Joe Gibbs.

""There are many outstanding players on the Redskins team

and I wish them all the best. I'll always be pulling for the

Redskins. I simply believe that this is the right time for me

to move on, because this team needs new leadership. Hiring a

new head coach will allow him to hire a new coaching staff

and hopefully point the Redskins in the right direction.

""I've enjoyed my time in Washington. Obviously, all of

the losing can wear you down, but I believe that the

franchise is headed in the right direction. Again, I'll

always be pulling for the Washington Redskins.''

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Papal Envoy Killled

From CBS News | Papal Envoy Killing 'No Accident' | December 30, 2003 00:49:06:

"Gunmen killed the pope's ambassador in Burundi on Monday, firing on his car as he was returning from a funeral, and the country's president said the envoy was deliberately targeted.

Archbishop Michael Courtney was shot in the head, shoulder and a limb and died during surgery at Prince Louis Rwagasore Hospital, a hospital official said.

President Domitien Ndayizeye said the 58-year-old Courtney was deliberately targeted. 'It was not an accident; he was killed,' Ndayizeye told reporters. He and other officials, however, did not say what the motive for the killing might be. "

Monday, December 29, 2003

More Terror Plots Uncovered

From The Mercury: Al-Qaeda blueprint exposed [29dec03]:

"British MP Patrick Mercer has revealed Saudi authorities arrested two Islamic suicide pilots. He said the pilots were preparing to crash two light aircraft into a packed British Airways passenger jet while it was still on the tarmac at the airport in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

Both light planes had been crammed with explosives. And Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he had received reliable intelligence of a Christmas Day plan to assassinate the Pope and destroy the Vatican by flying a hijacked plane into it. "

Former Head of Domicans Claims Priestly Celibacy Largely Ignored by Priests

From the Guardian Unlimited:

Priestly celibacy in the Roman Catholic church has largely broken down in many parts of the world, Father Timothy Radcliffe, former master general of the Dominican Order, which has 200,000 members worldwide, said last night.

Fr Radcliffe, now a monk in Oxford but tipped by some as a future leader of the Roman church in England, said the church might have to consider ordaining married priests.

On the BBC Radio Four programme Analysis, broadcast last night, he said: "It is clearly the case that in many parts of the world celibacy has actually largely broken down - in many countries in Latin America, parts of Africa, to some extent in the United States...

"If it turns out to be the case that it is being largely ignored or bypassed, then... a very negative witness is being given; and so we have to ask is it possible now - either we have to provide celibate priests with considerably more support or we have to explore the possibility of them being married."

The Vatican and the Pope have rejected any question of altering the 1,200 year-old rule, but there is growing alarm in the church that the number of men coming forward to train for the priesthood in Europe and the US is declining, and that a high proportion of those in training are thought to be gay.

The Pope blames the decline in new priests and the steady exodus of others to marry on moral decadence and indiscipline in the western world.

The church in England has already relaxed the rule to some extent by letting some married Anglican priests who left the Church of England remain in holy orders.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Feast of the Holy Family

Consider the Holy Family. At first the whole marriage is called into question when Joseph finds out the Mary is pregnant. He decides to divorce her. But then when he receives inspiration in a dream he relents. So Jesus being born into a single parent family is averted (although as Mother Teresa once pointed out to Father Benedict Groeschel all children have God as their father--so there really is no such thing as a "single parent" family for the believer).

Next we have the family setting out for the census taking. They haven't made reservations though, and so they end up living a nightmare that I have had the chance to experience myself a few times--no vacancy at any of the hotels. So Our Lord is born in a cave.

Then when Herod seeks the life of the child the family flees into Egypt as political refugees.

Really, the holy card image of the Holy Family, lacks any of the struggles and hardships that in reality were the lot of the Holy Family. Evidently Joseph died before Jesus was thirty since he is never mentioned later in the Gospels. Of course Mary will endure the death of her son three years later at thirty-three. The joy of the resurrection will be tempered by His absence forty days later at the Ascension. The Holy Family experienced almost any tragedy that we can place in our experience of family life. When we call on Jesus, Mary and Joseph we should be mindful of that...the struggles of life are not ours alone to bear. Heaven lowered itself not into a plush life but into the very sorrowful existence that is ours.

It is important to focus on the reality of the Holy Family so that we can capture the meaning of the prophecy that is made by Simeon. It is one that sees God's promise fulfilled in the infant Jesus but at the same time predicts hard times. God's blessing is not always what we might expect. It is not the Gospel of wealth and prosperity that is sometime proclaimed by the televangelist--it is one of being misunderstood, contradictions and the piercing of the mother's heart as she witnesses the death of her Son--the Son of God.

May the Holy Family bless us with the sense to find meaning in the events of our daily lives, no matter what they may bring.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

David Pedruska Dies, Better Known as Dave Dudley

From News:

Dave Dudley, best known for the truck driving anthem "Six Days on the Road," is dead at the age of 75. Dudley died Monday (Dec. 22) of an apparent heart attack suffered at his home in Danbury, Wis.

Born David Darwin Pedruska on May 3, 1928, in Spencer, Wis., Dudley was raised in Stevens Point, Wis., and played on semi-pro baseball teams until an arm injury forced an end to his athletic career in 1950. Moving toward a career in country music, he became a radio disc jockey, working at stations in Wisconsin, Iowa, Idaho and Minnesota and formed the Dave Dudley Trio in 1953. Dudley was sidelined for several months in 1960 after being struck by a car while loading equipment following a performance in Minneapolis.

Dudley first hit the Billboard country singles chart in 1961 with "Maybe I Do" on Vee Records. Charting again a year later with "Under Cover of the Night" on the Jubilee label, he spent two weeks at No. 2 on the country charts with his 1963 recording of "Six Days on the Road" on the independent Golden Wing label. Written by Earl Greene and Earl Montgomery, the song was passed along to Dudley by Jimmy C. Newman. Although Dudley was initially reluctant to record the up-tempo song, "Six Days on the Road" helped him land a recording contract with Mercury Records.

Building his career on truck driving songs, Dudley charted 41 singles on the Billboard country chart, including "Truck Drivin' Son-of-a-Gun," "There Ain't No Easy Run," "One More Mile," "Trucker's Prayer" and "Truck Driver's Waltz." He scored his only No. 1 hit with "The Pool Shark," a 1970 duet with Mercury labelmate Tom T. Hall. Dudley and Hall also charted a follow-up single, "Day Drinking." Dudley's chart success continued through the '70s on a variety of labels including Mercury, Rice and United Artists. His last charted single, "Rolaids, Doan's Pills and Preparation H," was released in 1980.

The "Other" Terror Attack of 2001

From Inside the Ring - The Washington Times: Inside the Ring:

"The CIA has been quietly building a case that the anthrax attacks of 2001 were in fact the result of an international terrorist plot.

U.S. officials with access to intelligence reports tell us the information showing a terrorist link to the anthrax-filled letters sent by mail in the weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks is not conclusive. But it is persuasive. "

Vatican Terror Target says Berlusconi

From RTÉ News: Vatican terror target says Berlusconi:

"The Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has said he was given precise details before Christmas of a planned terrorist attack on Rome and the Vatican.

The attack, which involved hi-jacking a plane, was supposed to have taken place on Christmas Day. Mr Berlusconi gave no further details.

Christmas celebrations at the Vatican led by Pope John Paul passed without incident, and there were no reports of any foiled attack. "

Christmas Around St. Blog's

Provided by Times Against Humanity

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Tappahanock, VA a Target?


The officials said al-Qaida seems particularly interested in Tappahannock, Va., a town of 2,016 people with no military base or major infrastructure. Such an attack would be intended to generate widespread fear that no one was safe, even in small rural towns, they said.

“Just remember that al-Qaida is not just looking to kill as many Americans as possible. They’re looking to seriously hurt our nation’s economy,” terrorism specialist Roger Cressey, former chief of staff of the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, said in an interview.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Yup, It Was Bad Officiating


GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner told Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley on Monday that some officiating mistakes were made in the disputed Florida-Florida State game.

Foley said ACC commissioner John Swofford told him a review conducted by the league turned up errors among the disputed calls made by referee Jack Childress and his crew in Florida's 38-34 loss last month, and they were being dealt with internally.

"I'm confident there was a thorough review," Foley said. "Hopefully this will make us all better in the future."

No fewer than six questionable calls went against the Gators. They began with the opening kickoff, when Florida State's Antonio Cromartie lost a fumble, but was ruled down, allowing the Seminoles to keep the ball. Irate fans at The Swamp rained down debris on the refs as they left the field.

Foley said Swofford didn't get into specifics about which calls were wrong. Nor did Foley divulge what, if any, sanctions would be handed out to the officials.

"They don't tell us that," he said.

Neither Swofford nor ACC director of officials Tommy Hunt immediately returned telephone messages left at their offices by The Associated Press.

Foley said he would continue to discuss the possibility of getting neutral officiating crews for future games between the in-state rivals. The current contract, which expires after next season, calls for officials from the visiting team's conference to call the game.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Send the Holy Father Your Christmas Greetings!

Find the email address at Christmas 2003

Questions About the New GIRM?

Father Smolarski has written excellent books on the liturgy before and I have little doubt that in this commentary he clears up any questions you or I might have.

Kurds say they caught Saddam

Wouldn't surprise me if this were true. Although much is made of the story appearing before other news stories hit the press, it should be remembered that Saddam was captured on Saturday, not Sunday and that rumors certianly would have spread before the official news was made known. So it could be that they are just trying to take credit, or it could be that they in fact are the ones who captured him.

From Print Article: We got him: Kurds say they caught Saddam:

"However, in the early hours of Sunday, a Kurdish language wire service reported explicitly: 'Saddam Hussein was captured by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. A special intelligence unit led by Qusrat Rasul Ali, a high-ranking member of the PUK, found Saddam Hussein in the city of Tikrit, his birthplace.

'Qusrat's team was accompanied by a group of US soldiers. Further details of the capture will emerge during the day; but the global Kurdish party is about to begin!'

The head of the PUK, Jalal Talabani, was in the Iranian capital en route to Europe.

The Western media in Baghdad were electrified by the Iranian agency's revelation, but as reports of the arrest built, they relied almost exclusively on accounts from US military and intelligence organisations, starting with the words of the US-appointed administrator of Iraq, Paul Bremer: 'Ladies and gentlemen: we got 'im'."

Are Mexican Migrant Workers Being Treated Like Slaves?

Often undocumented, but necessary to the farming economy--they are prone to being mistreated in ways that rival the worst tales of totalitarian governments from afar--but these cases are taking place in your backyard.

From Justice probing claim of being chained in:

"In that article, a 28-year-old Mexican man said that on more than one occasion in late 2002, he and other migrant tomato pickers were locked inside a trailer in the town of Wimauma, in Hillsborough County, by a family of farm labor contractors who claimed the workers owed them money. Those alleged debts were smuggling fees the workers incurred while being transported clandestinely into the U.S. from Mexico.

The man, who used the alias Jose Moreno, claimed he and the other laborers had to work off those debts before they could change jobs, were chained in the trailer at times and threatened with violence if they tried to leave. Such actions violate anti-slavery laws.

According to sources close to the case, two Justice Department attorneys flew from Washington to Tampa Monday. They, plus two FBI agents, met with Moreno that day at the Beth-El Mission, a religious facility in Wimauma."

More Saints, Blesseds and Venerables

Of special note are Blessed Gianna Molla, Venerable Alexandra of Portugal and Karl of Austria.

From Zenit News Agency - The World Seen From Rome:

Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the congregation, presented the decrees with which the Holy See recognizes four miracles attributed to the intercession of four people already beatified. This clears the way for their canonization. They are:

-- José Manyanet y Vives, founder of the Congregation of the Children of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, was born on Jan. 17, 1833, in Tremp, Spain, and died on Dec. 17, 1901, in San Andres de Palomar. He fostered family spirituality and promoted the construction of the church of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, of architect Antoni Gaudí, whose own cause of beatification is in progress.

-- Nimatullah Al-Hardini (Joseph Kassab), priest religious of the Maronite-rite Lebanese Order. Born in Harine, Lebanon, in 1808, he died on Dec. 14, 1858, in Kfifan. In the silence of the monastery, he was dedicated to prayer, the teaching of theology, and manual labor. Charbel Maklouf was one of his students.

-- Paola Elisabetta (Costanza) Cerioli, founder of the Institute of the Holy Family and of the Holy Family Congregation, was born on Jan. 28, 1816, in Soncino, Italy, and died on Dec. 24, 1865. A member of a wealthy and noble family, she became a widow when very young. Having lost her four children, she dedicated herself to looking after poor children and youths from the countryside. She founded two congregations, one for the education of men and one for that of women.

-- Gianna Beretta Molla. Doctor, wife and mother of a family, and member of Catholic Action, she was born on Oct. 4, 1922, in Magenta, Italy, and died on April 28, 1962. In her fourth pregnancy, she decided to give up her life to save that of her unborn child.

Cardinal Saraiva Martins then read the decrees recognizing miracles attributed to seven servants of God, clearing the way for their beatification. The seven are:

-- Auguste Czartoryski, priest of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco, who was received in the congregation by the founder himself, was born to a Polish family in Paris on Aug. 2, 1858, and died on April 9, 1858.

-- Maria Guadalupe (Anastasia Guadalupe) García Zavala, co-founder of the Congregation of Handmaids of St. Margaret Mary and the Poor, was born on April 27, 1878, in Zapopan, Mexico, and died on June 24, 1963, in Guadalajara. She was superior of her congregation at a difficult time for the Church in Mexico.

-- Nemesia (Julia) Valle, religious of the Institute of Charity, was born on June 26, 1747, in Aosta, Italy, and died on Dec. 18, 1916. She is known in her congregation as the "living rule."

-- Eusebia Palomino Yenes, religious of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary of Perpetual Help, was born on Dec. 15, 1899 in Cantalpino, Spain, and died on Feb. 10, 1935, in Valverde del Camino, Spain. "In 1931, foreseeing the Spanish Civil War, she offered herself as a victim to the Lord, who called her after a long illness," Cardinal Saraiva Martins explained during the ceremony.

-- Ludovica (Antonina) de Angelis, religious of the Congregation of Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy, was born on Oct. 24, 1880, in San Gregorio, Italy. In the exercise of her apostolate, she went to La Plata, Argentina, to work in a pediatric hospital. She spent the rest of her life in that city.

-- Karl of Austria, emperor and king, was born on Aug. 17, 1887, in Persenbeug, Austria, and died on April 1, 1922. "When he came to the throne, in 1916, he served his people with justice and charity," the prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes said. "He sought peace, helped the poor, and diligently cultivated his spiritual life. Faith sustained him from his youth, especially in the period of the First World War, and during his exile on the Island of Madeira, where he died a holy death."

-- Alessandrina Maria da Costa, lay member of the Union of Salesian Co-workers, was born on March 30, 1904, in Balasar, Portugal, and died on Oct. 13, 1955. "She threw herself out of a window at 14 to preserve her virginity," the cardinal explained. As a result of the accident, she was gradually paralyzed. "From her bed she carried out a precious apostolate of prayer and advice in favor of the numerous persons who visited her, attracted by her extraordinary virtues and charisms."

Cardinal Saraiva Martins also announced seven decrees of recognition of heroic virtues, involving these servants of God:

-- Clemens August Graf von Galen, cardinal and bishop of Muenster, was born on March 16, 1878, in Dinklage, Germany, and died on March 22, 1946. "He fought openly against the errors of National Socialism and against the violations of the rights of man and of the Church," the cardinal said. He was known as "the Lion of Muenster" for his opposition.

-- Luigi Biraghi, diocesan priest and founder of the Institute of Sisters of St. Marcelina, born on Nov. 2, 1801, in Vignate, Italy, and died on Aug. 11, 1879.

-- Luigi Monza, diocesan priest and founder of the Secular Institute of the Little Apostles of Charity, born on June 22, 1898, in Cislago, Italy, and died on Sept. 29, 1954.

-- Benigno of St. Therese of the Child Jesus (Angelo Calvi), priest of the Order of Discalced Carmelites, born on July 23, 1909, in Inzago, Italy, and died on Oct. 25, 1937.

-- Maria Teresa of Jesus (Maria Scrilli), founder of the Congregation of Religious of Our Lady of Carmel, born on May 15, 1825, in Montevarchi, Italy, and died on Nov. 14, 1889.

-- Rita Amada of Jesus (Rita Lopes De Almeida), founder of the Institute of Religious of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, born on March 5, 1848, in Casalmendinho, Portugal, and died on Jan. 6, 1913.

-- Maria Nazarena (Maria Majone), co-founder of the Congregation of Religious Daughter of the Divine Zeal, born on June 21, 1869, in Graniti, Italy, and died on Jan. 25, 1939.

SI Jinx

If you've seen the cover of Sports Illustrated this week, then you know who lost the Colts-Broncos game last night. SI is the one magazine you don't want to be on the cover of--at least before the big game.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Church to Beatify Last Hapsburg Emperor


"The Roman Catholic Church said Saturday that it will grant beatification to the emperor, who ruled the Austro-Hungarian empire from 1916 to 1918. Beatification is one confirmed miracle short of sainthood.

The Vatican did not disclose the details of Charles' miraculous act. The church simply said the emperor had 'served his people with justice and charity.'

But the Associated Press reports the last emperor's grandson, George Hapsburg, as saying that praying for Charles had cured a nun in Brazil of a deadly disease. Mr. Hapsburg said the woman's healing was unable to be explained by three medical experts. "

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Always Interesting

Want to know what people are talking about (or at least searching for on Google)? I always find this really interesting:

Google Press Center: Zeitgeist

This week's top queries:

1. Saddam Hussein

2. survivor

3. jenniecam (?)

4. 50 cent

5. internet explorer vulnerability (?)

6. beyonce

7. earthquake

8. gift guides

9. santa clause

10. orlando bloom

#5 is the most surprising, since it involves three words.

You can also view, different countries searches, end of the year searches, etc.

Friday, December 19, 2003

The Pill from Hell

FromCatholic Citizens:

"Today, December 16, 2003, is an important day in the United States. After listening to numerous pro life doctors, bioethicists and leaders warn of the dangers of allowing the abortifacient pill 'Plan B' to be sold over the counter, the U.S. advisory panel to the FDA voted to recommend allowing the 'morning after' contraceptive pill to be sold without a prescription. The pill is intended for use by women within 72 hours after sexual intercourse to prevent pregnancy.

It's incredulous how these US advisors for the FDA could have made such an evil decision after having listened to the good Judie Brown, President of American Life League, testify that 'these high doses of artificial hormones can and do terminate the lives of human beings after their lives have begun at conception/fertilization; these pills are dangerous for women, particularly adolescent women, and the damage to family life would be severe. Emergency contraception is not contraception...the Food and Drug Administration has a moral and ethical responsibility to assure, to the best of its ability, the health and welfare of every member of the human family. '"

New Design for the World Trade Center Revealed

Hard for me to conceptualize the top part of the building, but the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation's site has the best images. Check it out at LMDC

Some Feminists Want to Dump Mary

Here is the state of modern Catholic academia. Here is the corruption of the faith being taught at the highest levels. All of which is incredibly demonic in my mind.

First one might ask if you were a feminist and for "women", why would you desire the abolishment of the supreme woman in all of creation--the Mother of God? Could there be a more exalted creature? Could there be a greater model that all should look to follow?

What you have here is an exaltation of "ego", an "I will not serve", a manifestation of the "anti-Christ" as it has been written in every traditional treatise on the subject.

When all of this, the opposite of the Gospel message is proclaimed as the Gospel message, what you have is the confusion that one hears weekly from the pulpit. A watered down Gospel that somehow ends up being a projection of myself upon God, rather than the challenge that Jesus places upon myself.

Pope John Paul II attempted to get a handle on this problem by retaking Catholic institutions of higher learning. But for the most part with a few exceptions the Catholic leadership in this country has been reluctant to enact those reforms. This leaves us with pseudo Catholic scholars who have formally apostacized yet continue to teach as Catholics in Catholic institutions.

From Andrew Greeley:

" I think some feminists want to dump the mother of Jesus because creepy people have tried to make her look like a wimp, when the scripture suggests that she was a pushy Jewish mother: 'Son, they have no wine!'

Johnson and her allies are going to have to persuade Mexican Americans to give up Our Lady of Guadalupe -- quite a task. They are also going to have to persuade young adults (in this country and in Ireland, where the studies have been made) that devotion to Mary is not one of the top four criteria of their Catholic identity (concern for the poor, Jesus in the Eucharist, God in the sacraments are the other three).

A pushover? I don't like the battle imagery, but in his poem 'The Ballad of the White Horse,' G. K. Chesterton depicts the vision of King Alfred as he tries to rally his forces against the invading Danes. He sees Mary above his banners and says, 'Seven Swords were in her heart but one was in her hand.'"

Liturgy Apostolic Letter in English

Here's a snipet...

From Zenit News Agency - The World Seen From Rome:

"With forty years of hindsight, it is opportune to assess progress to date. Already on other occasions, I have suggested a type of examination of conscience in regard to the reception of the Second Vatican Council.17 Such an examination cannot disregard the liturgical-sacramental life. 'Is the Liturgy lived as 'source and summit' of ecclesial life, according to the teaching of 'Sacrosanctum Concilium'?'18 Has the rediscovery of the value of the Word of God, which the liturgical reform has brought about, found a positive affirmation in our celebrations? To what degree has the Liturgy entered the concrete living of the faithful and to what degree does it reflect the rhythm of the individual communities? Is it understood as a means of holiness, as an inner force of apostolic dynamism and ecclesial mission? "

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Anyone Read This Book?

Written by John Haffert, published shortly before he died, this lifetime devotee of Fatima weighs in on the release of the Third Secret of Fatima and what it might mean. The events of 9/11 figure heavily.

Has anyone read this? Comments?

"At least the cockroach enjoyed my salad."

And other comments about restaurants that lawyers wouldn't let the papers run on their reviews. Find them at ZAGAT SURVEY: BY POPULAR VOTEZAGAT SURVEY: BY POPULAR VOTE

In a related story there was a cooked grasshopper in some greens that I ordered at a restaurant in Chicago. I'm enough of a hick that I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be part of the meal or not?

To All You Purists and Liturgist Out There...

The Vatican lit its Christmas Tree yesterday (so did we). I guess even the Pope can't wait for Christmas and there is something very, very right about that!

From The Charleston Gazette - APNews:

The Vatican flicked on the twinkling lights of its tinsel-decorated Christmas tree Wednesday evening in St. Peter's Square.

A children's choir entertained the crowd of several hundred with Christmas carols and the John Lennon-Yoko Ono tune "Happy Xmas (War Is Over).''

The 100-foot Christmas tree was placed in the square Friday, transported from an alpine valley where Pope John Paul II has spent many vacations. The fir tree comes from the woods in Aosta Valley, near the French border in the shadow of Mount Blanc.

Not sure why they chose that song (Happy Christmas), next thing you know the be singing "Imagine there's no heaven."

Opportunity for Catholic Writers

Poetry and prose written by orthodox Catholics. St. Linus Reveiw will be starting up in 2004. If you are interested in contributing a piece or in subscribing check it out at

Country Singer, Gary Stewart Dead

Apparently from suicide, a few weeks after his wife's death.

Sad, sad news. I was a big Gary Stewart fan. Saw him once in Texas. He had a voice unlike anyone.

From TCPalm: Editorials:

"A Fort Pierce favorite son, singer-songwriter Gary Stewart died this week of an apparent suicide just weeks after the death of Mary Lou Stewart, his wife of 42 years. Gary Stewart was found dead in his Fort Pierce home Tuesday from a gunshot wound. "

A native of Letcher County, Ky., Stewart moved to Fort Pierce with his family at age 12 following his father's injury in a coal mining accident. He worked at Northrop Grumman aircraft plant in Stuart and played with country and rock bands before teaming up with Fort Pierce police officer Billy Eldridge in writing country music songs.

In the 1970s, Stewart, with his fusion of country, blues and Southern rock, sung in a powerful tenor with a distinctive wailing vibrato, took the music world by storm. In 1975, he released "Out of Hand," an album featuring the hits "Drinkin' Thing" and "She's Actin' Single (I'm Drinkin' Doubles)." Country Music Magazine rated it the No. 3 All Time Greatest Country Album.

Throughout the 1970s, Stewart recorded six albums and wrote hits for other country music stars. During the early 1980s, he was largely absent from the national music stage, then made a triumphant return in 1988 with the release of "Brand New." He continued writing and recording. His final album, "Live at Billy Bob's Texas," was released earlier this year.

Stewart's hard-driving, boot-stomping, heavy-drinking, fist-fighting, barroom-weeping music epitomized the essence of honky tonk. No one did it better. Some say he failed to reach the pinnacle of celebrity because his music was too rock for country fans and too country for rock fans.

But, Billboard Magazine's Gerry Wood once said, "Gary Stewart just may be the best singer in the history of country music."

Stewart traveled throughout the country and wrote, recorded and partied with Southern rock musicians such as members of the Allman Brothers band, but his base was always Fort Pierce.

Stewart lived life with passion and his fans were passionate about his music.

His sudden death is tragic. But, he left us a treasure trove of sounds and feelings that will not be forgotten.

The December Dilemma?

I do find the notion that you can't mention that Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ as nothing short of idiotic, but there does seem to be another issue at play.

We celebrate other historic personages.

No one is cramming Christianity down anyone's throat. In fact I think the government should adopt something akin to allowing everyone to have a "religious holiday or two" off every year and abandon making Christmas a Federal holiday. Let the non-Christian, aethiest work on Christmas. Let them take off the 22nd if they want to celebrate the hiding of the sun.

But I think the move to wipe out any mention of Christ is nothing short of demonic. Its one thing for people who want nothing to do with Him to not follow Him. It is quite another to try to wipe Him off the face of history.

Let's all stop acting like Christmas is anything other than what it is. Merry Christmas by the way...

From CATHOLIC LEAGUE for Religious and Civil Rights: "Catholic League president William Donohue addressed today the claim that there is a December Dilemma in the schools:

“When people say there is a December Dilemma, what they mean is that school officials are in a bind: how can they allow the celebration of Christmas without offending others? The answer? Censor Christmas.

“The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is so worried about Christmas that it issues an annual document, ‘The December Dilemma,’ on how to deal with this problem (in response, the Catholic League offers, ‘The December Celebration’). In a Q&A section, the ADL comments on what is excessive when it comes to Christmas decorations. After admitting that the courts have said Santas and Christmas trees are secular symbols, it warns, ‘Nevertheless, their inordinate usage is inappropriate.’ It does not say what constitutes an inordinate number, nor does it say why secular symbols of any kind should be censored, regardless of their volume. But it does tell us a lot about how the ADL views Christmas.

“Janet Jones is Principal of Adler Elementary in Southfield, Michigan. Scott Finnegan is Principal of Memorial and Burke Elementary in Medway, Massachusetts. Michael Ransaw is Principal of Powell Middle School in Spring Hill, Florida. All three have resolved the December Dilemma by taking a page from the ADL—they censor it.

“In every instance, school officials say they must censor Christmas because the holiday is not inclusive. But if they were advised to censor Martin Luther King Day celebrations—on the grounds that it is not inclusive (it represents only a small minority)—they would respond by saying that white kids who feel left out should respect diversity. Why, then, should not those who are not Christ"

According to Passion Mystic, Christmas Really is on November 25th...

We probably should just go ahead and change it, then everyone would be celebrating it for a month, (if we didn't let them in on the secret)! Or another way to look at it is perhaps mystically we all are celebrating because in fact it was a month earlier than the calendar dates it!

From Spirit Daily - Daily spiritual news from around the world:

"Kislev was the ninth month, corresponding approximately to our November-December period; according to Catherine Emmerich, the Lord was born on the twelfth of Kislev -- which that year was dated November 25."

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

A Great Christmas Story

Found at Bruderhof Communities - The Guest by Nikolai S. Lesskov Here is a sample:

"In the snowstorm he had lost his way completely, and he was so cold he was afraid he would freeze to death that night. 'Suddenly,' he said, 'I met someone who said to me, 'Go to that house, over there, where you see the lights. Take my place, and you will be warmed and fed; you may eat out of my plate!' "

Albright Thinks Bush Hiding Bin Laden

From WorldNetDaily: Albright thinks Bush hiding bin Laden:

"Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told Fox News Channel analyst Morton Kondracke yesterday she suspects President Bush knows the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and is simply waiting for the most politically expedient moment to announce his capture.

Kondracke made the announcement about what Albright told him backstage before an appearance on another Fox show on 'Special Report With Brit Hume.' "

Horn Breaks One of Abramowicz's Records

Joe Horn broke one of Danny Abramowicz's records. Danny is writing a great spiritual workout book for Our Sunday Visitor that will come out in March of 2004.

From - The Official Web Site Of The New Orleans Saints:

"HORN OF PLENTY: WR Joe Horn extended his streak of games with a reception as a Saint to 56 consecutive with six catches for 74 yards and two TDs. The six catches gave Horn 310 as a Saint, which moved him into second place in club history past WR Danny Abramowicz, who had 309 from 1967-73. The club record is held by WR Eric Martin, who had 532 receptions from 1985-93.

His two TD catches gave him 30 for his Saints career, seven shy of tying the franchise record held by Abramowicz (37). "

"Love Conquers All"--Pope's Peace Message

I read several news stories that spoke of this message as being nothing but an attack on the U.S. I think it pretty much is an indictment of us all. "There is no peace without forgiveness," is an excellent line for us all to reflect on beginning with our person lives, our families, our communities and our nation.

From the Vatican:

For this reason I have often reminded Christians and all persons of good will that forgiveness is needed for solving the problems of individuals and peoples. There is no peace without forgiveness! I say it again here, as my thoughts turn in particular to the continuing crisis in Palestine and the Middle East: a solution to the grave problems which for too long have caused suffering for the peoples of those regions will not be found until a decision is made to transcend the logic of simple justice and to be open also to the logic of forgiveness.

Christians know that love is the reason for God's entering into relationship with man. And it is love which he awaits as man's response. Consequently, love is also the loftiest and most noble form of relationship possible between human beings. Love must thus enliven every sector of human life and extend to the international order. Only a humanity in which there reigns the “civilization of love” will be able to enjoy authentic and lasting peace.

At the beginning of a New Year I wish to repeat to women and men of every language, religion and culture the ancient maxim: “Omnia vincit amor” (Love conquers all). Yes, dear Brothers and Sisters throughout the world, in the end love will be victorious! Let everyone be committed to hastening this victory. For it is the deepest hope of every human heart.

Praise for the Catholic League

While in Chicago, we saw something similar in Daley Plaza. There was a display of a crescent moon and there was a creche both seemed to have been put their by private agencies. Good for the Catholic League! Catholics need to aggressively reclaim the Feast of Christ's birth!

CATHOLIC LEAGUE for Religious and Civil Rights:

"The Catholic League has erected a nativity scene in New York’s Central Park. Located on the corner of 59th Street and 5th Avenue, the crèche will be blessed by Monsignor John Woolsey, pastor of St. John the Martyr in Manhattan, at 4:00 pm. It will be up for two weeks.

Catholic League president William Donohue offered the following remarks today:

“Contrary to what some lawyers and urban bureaucrats say, it is not illegal to put a nativity scene on public property. We paid for the crèche ourselves and obtained a permit from the Parks Department of New York City to place it in Central Park. Yet the same city that allows Jews to put menorahs in the public schools, and allows Muslims to do the same with the crescent and star, bans nativity scenes from the schools. That is why we arranged for a lawsuit against New York City: we secured a plaintiff, Andrea Skoros, and the Thomas More Law Center is handling the litigation. We are awaiting a decision by Judge Charles Sifton of the Eastern District Court on this matter.

“By putting a nativity scene in Central Park, the Catholic League is sending a message: Christmas trees and Santa are great, but they are no substitute for a crèche. Just as Jews wouldn’t be satisfied if they were told they could not put a menorah on public property, but dreidels were acceptable, Catholics and Protestants will not settle for secular symbols—we want a religious display.” "

And Criticism... for them.

This seems unfortunate. I doubt questiong Ms. Hill's sanity is the way to go. She used this opportunity as a forumn to express the frustration that many have that their voice isn't being heard. It might not have been the right time to do it, but I grant you if the Church was as quick to condemn its own sins as it is to point the finger at others these kind of protests would not happen. What's more is that the Catholic Leaque's statement strikes me as more of an attack than corrective measure.

From the Catholic League:


At a Vatican Christmas concert Saturday night, hip-hop artist Lauryn Hill read a lengthy statement blasting the Vatican for the homosexual scandal in the Catholic Church. “God has been a witness to the corruption of his leadership, of the exploitation and abuses…by the clergy,” she said. Hill told the audience to seek blessings “from God, not men,” adding there was “no acceptable explanation for defending the church.”

Catholic League president William Donohue spoke to this issue today:

“Last year Lauryn Hill stepped onstage at Carnegie Hall and admitted to the crowd that her life was ‘a mess.’ Judging from her latest outburst in Vatican City, nothing seems to have changed. Pathologically miserable, Hill has confessed to taking ‘some lighter fluid and a match and burned everything I had built because the foundation was wrong.’ It is no wonder that in one of her songs, she literally asks God to ‘save me from myself.’

“Hill’s personal problems do not justify her rants against the Catholic Church. After all, Sinead O’Connor isn’t exactly normal, either, and she justifiably paid a price for her stunt on Saturday Night Live when she ripped up a picture of the pope. We expect Hill’s career, already in decline, will continue to head south. Columbia Records should show her the gate.”

Monday, December 15, 2003


Attended the end of a Messiah sing along in the beautiful St. John Cantius church.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

The Myth of ADHD

Interesting piece. This is a flash point topic for some, sure to enrage a few.

When I was teaching high school, I remember one afternoon we had a presentation by the science department on ADHD. The head of the department, a nice intelligent woman began with her struggles to deal with her brainy son to no avail until the counselors told her that he must be ADHD. She didn't want to believe it (for good reason) but finally they convinced her.

Next up was the Biology teacher who began his presentation with something reminiscent of an AA meeting by declaring that he (in his mid 50's) was ADHD. He recounted how all his life he had been viewed as an odd ball (he was even with ritalin) until finally after studying ADHD and its effects on some of his students he had come to the conclusion that he too was ADHD. His entire childhood had been a disaster because of the unenlightened educators who had expected him to be like the rest of men (people). As an aside this is a constant theme of modern life "Lord, I thank you for not making me like the rest of men!" vs. "Lord be merciful to me the sinner."

As the afternoon went on though and the questions got tougher it was pretty clear from the biologist's own admission that their really was no objective test to give from a chemical perspective. Although it was interesting that the unscientific basis for this disease did not bother the science department at all.

My conclusion--some people are just more active than others and more imaginative. In my experience those often "diagnosed" with ADHD (even the adults) are highly imaginative and interesting folks that most of the pack (read unimaginative and boring) would rather have drugged into submission. Ritalin makes these gifted individuals into zombies.

From Insight Magazine--Baughman Dispels The Myth of ADHD:

"Insight: You've spent 35 years in private practice as an adult and child neurologist, diagnosing real diseases. What spurred your interest in the ADHD diagnosis?

Fred A. Baughman Jr.: Through the 1970s and 1980s the ADHD 'epidemic' began to impact all of us, and the numbers of children being referred to me were increasing dramatically. I'd examine these kids to determine whether they did or did not have real diseases. After giving them thorough examinations, doing such tests as I deemed were necessary, I couldn't find anything wrong with them.

I was becoming more and more aware that something was afoot from the tone with which the diagnoses were being made in schools and by psychiatrists who were part of the school team. And never mind that I could find no scientific basis for the diagnosis. But here were pediatricians and school psychiatrists practicing mental health in ways that did not make sense. Principals and teachers would threaten that if I didn't diagnose ADHD they'd find someone who would. As a neurologist, I'm in the business of diagnosing real diseases, so this attitude on the part of people who should know better was very disturbing."

Friday, December 12, 2003

Cardinal George Takes on DaVincin Code and Left Behind Series

From The New Catholic World:

Currently exploiting our gullibility for conspiracy theories is “The DaVinci Code” by Dan Brown. This is now a best-selling novel which, because it is engagingly written, is being treated as plausible. Unlike holy Scripture and the doctrines of the Church, “The DaVinci Code” has the advantage of explaining Jesus in terms that seem sensible to many by playing on ever-popular biases against the Catholic Church and advancing an esoteric form of feminism. For the price of one book, you get two theories that pander to prejudices today.

What does the novel say? It portrays Jesus as a wealthy teacher with political aspirations who is married to Mary Magdalene; he is a family man around Nazareth, one of the boys but a particularly enlightened one, a university professor before his time. Mary Magdalene is pregnant with his child when Jesus dies, and the secret of this bloodline is the preposterous story line of the book. For this weird idea, the apostles and martyrs gave their lives? Of course not. How, then, did the martyrs and we come to hold that in faith we encounter not an idea but Jesus himself, Son of God, messiah and risen Lord? From the crafty Catholic Church, of course, which, even though the Church celebrates the feast of St. Mary Magdalene yearly, hid the secret knowledge (gnosticism) about Jesus and Mary Magdalene in order to oppress women.

The second century gnostic writings Brown uses to give a façade of scholarship to his fiction were all written years after the four Gospels that the Church eventually came to judge canonical. The historical writings he uses are all spurious. The legend that Mary Magdalene journeyed to southern France with Lazarus after Christ’s resurrection has long been part of local lore in Marseilles, but this legend has nothing to do with the history of the early Merovingian kings of France, as the novel would have it. It is worth noting that when ABC recently presented an hour long special on “The DaVinci Code,” with a panel mostly antagonistic to the apostolic faith of the Church, the host had to conclude at the end of the program that there was no proof of any kind for the theories that the book espouses. A novel, of course, doesn’t need to rely on proof, unless it makes historical claims.

Prophetic claims are made by the “Left Behind” novels, which depend on a misinterpretation of Christian eschatology, our belief that Jesus will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 675). Using the words of canonical Scripture, authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins contort the Advent theme of the Day of the Lord into a theory that the “Rapture” and the Second Coming are two events separated by a time of tribulations and followed by a thousand-year reign of Christ as king of the whole world. This belief is called “premillennial dispensationalism.” It was put together in the mid-1800s by an ex-Anglican minister, John Nelson Darby (1800-1882); in this modern form, it was unknown to any Christian believer during the first 1,800 years of Christianity but is professed in some forms of Protestantism today.

The persuasive force of the “Left Behind” novels comes less from their doctrinal underpinnings about what Christ did and intended than from the fear that one might be left behind at the Rapture, when those who have accepted Christ as Savior will be spirited away by him before the time of tribulations begins in this world. The stories are poignant. Who wants to be left behind? There is a whole federal education program designed to be sure that no child will be left behind! Catholics, who are trapped in what the novels call “Babylonian mysticism,” are prime candidates for being left behind, unless they manage to disentangle themselves from the Church. Once again, the only good Catholic is an ex-Catholic. Since American culture is relentlessly future-oriented, odd religious ideas about the end time have flourished here for two centuries. Those interested in a careful biblical critique of the Rapture theories can consult Carl E. Olson, “Will Catholics Be “Left Behind”? A Catholic Critique of the Rapture and Today’s Prophecy Preachers” (Ignatius, 2003).

If “The DaVinci Code” is a work of bizarre religious imaginings about the past and the “Left Behind” novels are works of sincere but erroneous religious delusions about the future, why be concerned about them in the present? Because they betray in words the one who is truthfully described as “the way, the truth and the life” (Jn. 14: 6), the one we call Our Lord. Christianity is not a parlor game. The faith makes truth claims about who Christ is and what is to be our destiny in him. Both the “Left Behind” books and Dan Brown’s novel, though coming from different perspectives, share a common fallacy. They approach the Christian faith as though its contents were to be found in words and documents alone rather than in the witness and the collective memory of the community Christ himself left behind, his Church. We find salvation through self-surrender in faith to Christ present in the Church, not from personal ideas. Once the anchor of the Church’s authentic witness and teaching is abandoned, gnostic and dispensationalist and other false theories inevitably appear.

The feast of Christmas is a powerful antidote to the gnostic fabrications of Dan Brown and the dispensationalist delusions of the “Left Behind” books. The child born at Bethlehem is the divine Son of the all-holy God. Born of the Virgin Mary, Jesus comes to us truly and fully in a human nature like ours in all things but sin. As the Gospels and St. Paul and the Fathers of the Church have taught, the real flesh of Jesus Christ, not some esoteric secret wisdom, is the means of our salvation. Gnostics were antagonistic to the flesh; and dispensationalists believe that Christians are a “heavenly” people of God, as opposed to Jews who are only God’s “earthly” people. Interestingly, much of the antagonism toward the Church today stems from opposition to her teachings about sexuality, marriage and celibacy and the nature of ordained priesthood, all beliefs that take flesh seriously.

Update on Mother Angelica

From EWTN:

As the Nuns at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Alabama prepare to celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ, they can’t help but be reminded it was on Christmas Eve two years ago that Mother Angelica suffered her second major stroke, leaving her with partial paralysis and a speech impediment. As she nears the second anniversary of that incident, the Foundress of EWTN Global Catholic Network has improved greatly while quietly living a cloistered life, according to Sister Mary Catherine, Vicar of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery.

"She has shown tremendous improvement since her stroke, although her verbal communication is still difficult. Mother is able to lead prayers and gently encourages her sisters in their daily lives,” she said.

“While she is not as mobile as she once was, using a wheel chair and walker to get around, Mother Angelica herself decided several months ago to stop her rehabilitation and speech therapy sessions," Sister Mary Catherine continued. “Mother is content living her life in whatever physical condition Our Lord wills for her.”

Sister Mary Catherine said that Mother still receives letters, cards and emails from her friends around the world who offer her prayers and good wishes. “Many thousands of people have offered prayers for her in the past two years and she is so grateful for them all,” She said.

Sister Mary Catherine said Mother Angelica takes a very active part in her religious community. “Mother is with us at daily Mass, prayers and devotions. She is with us for meals and community time. And, her sense of humor continues to show itself in unexpected ways,” Sister Mary Catherine exclaimed.

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The mystery of Our Lady's eyes....always one of the most interesting caveats about the Guadalupe image and anyone who cast aspersions upon it.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

New Auxilary Bishop for LA

From the Vatican Information Service:

The Holy Father appointed Fr. Oscar Azarcon Solis, pastor of St. Joseph Co-Cathedral Parish in Thibodaux, U.S.A., as auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles (area 22,685, population 10,985,200, Catholics 4,197,635, priests 1,261, permanent deacons 203, religious 2,621), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in 1953 in San Jose City, Philippines and was ordained a priest in 1979.

Lost Art in Liturgy?

I've been reading a number of critiques lately about liturgy (the Mass) and people's receptivity to it. They all ring true. To paraphrase a large amount of material and to present it perhaps rather simplistically--what is needed from all of us to truly plug back into the Vine is to:

"learn again to gaze"


"desiring to master"

Presiders, musicians, lectors, extraordinary ministers, and congregants take note.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Dan Reeves Fired

Most surprising thing about this is Dan's age (57), I thought he was a lot older than that.

From | Falcons | Dan Reeves out:

"With one of the worst seasons of Dan Reeves' 23-year career as an NFL head coach winding down, Falcons owner Arthur Blank released his head coach from his contract Wednesday morning.

The Falcons are 3-10, with three games left in the season. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who followed Reeves as head coach in Denver after Reeves' contract was not renewed there following the '92 season, will finish the season as Atlanta's interim coach. Phillips also was a head coach in Buffalo, and recommended by Reeves to Blank as interim coach.

Reeves and Blank are expected to speak at a 10:30 a.m. press conference at team headquarters. Reeves also attended the press conference after he was fired by the Giants following the 1996 season."

Former UNH Football Star O'Leary New Head Coach at UCF

I'm being facious about the UNH part, this happened on Monday but seemed to have been totally overshadowed by the BCS mess. UCF is getting a great coach, one that Notre Dame had for about a week.

From the University of Central Florida Athletic Site:

George O’Leary, the two-time ACC Coach of the Year and 2000 National Coach of the Year, was named UCF’s new football coach Monday by athletics director Steve Orsini.

The former Georgia Tech head coach and current Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator, O’Leary, 57, signed a five-year and becomes the eighth coach in the school’s 25-year history. He replaces Alan Gooch who coached the team on an interim basis the final two games of 2003 after Mike Kruczek was relieved of his coaching duties Nov. 10.

“After searching the nation I identified my number one candidate and we got him,” Orsini said. “He is the best person for this job. He has a proven track record of building an entire football program to a championship level.”

O’Leary, will continue to fulfill his commitment to the NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings in the upcoming weeks while preparing to turn his full attention to the UCF job.

“I see the University of Central Florida as a sleeping giant,” O’Leary said. “I think this is a great opportunity and the potential is outstanding. I was greatly impressed with the people I spoke to about this job and the commitment to not only athletics, but to the students and graduation.”

O'Leary was the head coach at Georgia Tech from 1994-2001 and compiled a 52-33 record while leading the Yellow Jackets to Bowl appearances the last five seasons. He was named the winner of the 2000 Bobby Dodd Award as the National Coach of the Year and was named the ACC’s top coach in 1998 and 2000. Over his final four seasons in Atlanta he led the team to a 34-14 record (.708), including two runner-up finishes and a tie for the ACC title in 1998.

New Apostolic Letter Calls for Examination of Conscience of Liturgy

Still getting the message in bits and pieces, since it still hasn't been published in English.


The examination is to "verify the road traveled so far" in regard to the "reception of Vatican Council II," especially with respect to the "liturgical-sacramental life" of the Church, the Holy Father wrote.

"Is the liturgy lived as the 'source and culmination of ecclesial life,' according to the teaching of 'Sacrosanctum Concilium'?" is the first question in the apostolic letter.

"Has the rediscovery of the value of the Word of God brought about by the liturgical reform found a positive acceptance in our celebrations?" the Pope asks. "Up to what point has the liturgy become a part of the concrete life of the faithful and marks the rhythm of each one of the communities?"

"Is the liturgy understood as the path of holiness, inner force of apostolic dynamism and of the Church's missionary character?" he adds.

The liturgical renewal needs a "proper formation of ministers and of all the faithful," the Holy Father says, while offering guidelines for the "conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations desired by the Council."

This is why the Pontiff considers that a "liturgical pastoral program" is necessary in fidelity to the new documents issued by the Holy See which regulate it.

In addition, the Pope says that liturgical reform calls for the rediscover of Sunday -- "synthesis of the Christian life and condition to live it well" -- and of the "art of prayer" -- "not only through the Liturgy, but also through pious practices."

The thirst for God that contemporary men and women experience, despite secularization, must be slaked by intimate contact with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, the Pope explains.

Therefore, the Holy Father calls for the promotion of "fitting celebrations, paying due attention to the different categories of people: children, youths, adults, the elderly, the handicapped."

"All should feel welcome in our assemblies, to be able to breathe the atmosphere of the first believing community," he writes.

John Paul II also encourages the rediscovery of the "experience of silence" in Christian communities.

"In a society that lives ever more frenetically, often deafened by noise and distracted by the ephemeral, it is vital to rediscover the value of silence," he says.

In a word, the Pope says that "the pedagogy of the Church must 'dare' to present lofty objectives as, for example, the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours."

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Nun Seeking Induction into GB Packer Fan Hall of Fame

From theMilwaukee Catholic Herald – December 4, 2003:

"From a rocking chair in her living room, School Sister of Notre Dame Isaac Jogues Rousseau spends Sunday afternoons cheering for her beloved Green Bay Packers. What sets this avid Packers football fan apart from the millions of other “Packer backers” across the land of cheeseheads?

The words on her specially embroidered game-day sweatshirt reveal the answer: “Green Bay Packers 1921 — Me Too!” Yes, the enthusiastic cheerleader for the green and gold was born the same year the Packers joined the newly formed National Football League. What’s more, Sr. Rousseau was born in Green Bay.

Her life-long connection to the Packers and Green Bay makes Sr. Rousseau a true fan. But does it make her a “hall of fame” fan? For friends at Mount Mary College, where Sr. Rousseau is a professor emeritus of Greek and Latin and volunteers as a tutor, the answer is a resounding yes. So when the Green Bay Packers announced earlier this year that the club would induct one new member into the Packers Fan Hall of Fame, two Mount Mary librarians nominated Sr. Rousseau"

Former N.C. State and Florida Basketball Coach Norm Sloan Dies

I sat through many a game in the O'Connell Center when Norm Sloan was coaching Florida. Most may think that he was succeeded by Billy Donavan after his second coaching stint at Florida ended in controversy, but it was Don Devoe who took his place.

What I remember most was the bright orange pants that he wore and his wife singing the National Anthem.

From AP Wire | 12/09/2003 | Former N.C. State Coach Norm Sloan Dies:

Norm Sloan, who coached North Carolina State to the 1974 NCAA basketball title, died Tuesday at 77.

He died of pulmonary fibrosis of the lungs at Duke Hospital, daughter Leslie Nicholls said. Sloan was living in Raleigh at the time of his death.

Sloan first came to N.C. State to play for Everett Case, then took over the Wolfpack for the 1966-67 season, posting a record of 7-19 overall and 2-12 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Within a few years, the Wolfpack had won the 1970 ACC championship with a 42-39 double-overtime victory over South Carolina in the finals. The Gamecocks routed N.C. State 85-69 in the final regular-season game of the season before the Wolfpack went on its tournament run.

Star forward David Thompson joined the team for the 1973 season and led N.C. State to a 27-0 record. The Wolfpack was not allowed to compete for the NCAA championship, won by UCLA, because of an NCAA probation relating to the recruiting of Thompson.

Vatican Exhibit Moves to Cincinnati

Or as Joseph calls it Cincianna (I think he would prefer if it were in Indiana).

Sounds like the perfect way to break up a long trip to Tennessee later this month.

From The Enquirer (Not the National but the Cincinnati):

Moving a show as monumental as Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes could be considered a divine challenge.

When the show closed in Fort Lauderdale in late November, the second city on its four-city, 18-month tour, organizers had roughly four weeks to pack up and move the show to the next stop. Last week, the 350 artworks and historically significant objects arrived at Cincinnati Museum Center. On Monday, staff began unpacking sets and scenery.

"We have so much stuff, and we do it in a relatively short amount of time," says Jeffrey Wyatt, vice president of production for Clear Channel Exhibitions, producers of the show.

"There are the art, objects, environments and videos to move in under 28 days. That's very fast for this type of thing, but we want to maximize the amount of time we can be open to the public with only four cities."

Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes opens Dec. 20 at the Museum Center. One of the most ambitious exhibitions to be mounted in the Queen City, it covers more than 2,000 years of Western civilization. It is the largest exhibition of Vatican art to be shown in North America. It premiered in Houston in March and will move on to San Diego when its Cincinnati run ends April 18.

Monday, December 8, 2003

Gifts for Family or the Poor

A personally autographed book makes the perfect gift, not to mention that books that help someone come closer to Christ (the whole reason for the season) and the Mass (the name of the feast--Christ Mass). Amy's page has all the details:

Amy Welborn and Michael Dubruiel's Books

New Apostolic Letter

As best I can tell, it recommends renewed appreciation for a variety of aspects of the liturgy including "hush" as the crappy translation tools available online translate the Italian word for silence. Also renews a stress on sacred music and fuller use of the Liturgy of the Hours by all Christians.

Sunday, December 7, 2003

Saint Nicholas Paid a Visit to a Local Catholic Bookstore Yesterday

And Joseph received a few more chocolate coins besides the ones he found in his shoe on Saturday morning.

Here is a thought, why don't Catholics and Orthodox Christians make an all out attempt to reclaim the person of Saint Nicholas transforming him back into a bishop and emphasizing bringing gifts to the poor. In fact wouldn't it be a great idea to make Christmas not a time of exchanging gifts with each other but of totally directing our gift giving to the poor. Think of the great good that could be done if we spent even a fraction of what we waste on useless gifts that often are expensive if we gave like amounts to help feed, clothe and house the truly poor.

Saturday, December 6, 2003

Feast of St. Nicholas

Shoes here were filled with coins this morning--gold ones filled with chocolate!

Check out Amy's post at open book on St. Nicholas.

Catholics everywhere should try to recapture this Saint's feast and slowly reel jolly St. Nick back to his sainted origin.

Friday, December 5, 2003

New Apostolic Letter on the Liturgy

It is only up in Italian so far. I can read the first line, a quote from the Book of Revelation, "The Spirit and the Bride say: Come!" which is a great way to begin a letter on the Liturgy. That's what its all about, inviting Our Lord to Come again!

It also isn't very long.

From the Vatican:

"1. 'Lo Spirito e la Sposa dicono: ‘Vieni!’. "

Did Murdered Priest Pose a Threat to Killer?

Interesting tale about a priest who was murdered several years ago, who it turns out was the source for the Roman Catholic Faithful's Stephen Brady.

From "Priest Knew Too Much?" By Matt C. Abbott posted Dec 2, 2003, 12:20:

"Kunz was an advisor to the Illinois-based Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF), headed by lay Catholic activist Stephen Brady. RCF investigated the misdeeds of the now-former bishop of Springfield, Ill., Daniel Ryan. (For more information about RCF's work, visit

The police are, understandably, very tight-lipped about the status of their investigation into the Kunz homicide. But they remain steadfastly determined to solve the case, despite what some individuals have surmised. The fact is we (read: concerned Catholics) don't know what they know. And they probably know a lot more than we might think they do. In fact, press reports have stated that the police have interviewed over 1,000 people during the course of their ongoing investigation.

So if and when the case is finally solved, we'll know for sure. We'll know the full story. But, until then, all we have is speculation. Educated speculation, that is. And, I would submit, a little educated speculation - coupled with a lot of prayer - can go a long way."

Thursday, December 4, 2003

Joke Related to an Impending Snowstorm Here

As a trucker stops for a red light, a blonde catches up. She jumps out of her car, runs up to his truck, and knocks on the door. The trucker lowers the window, and she says "Hi, my name is Heather and you are losing some of your load." The trucker ignores her and proceeds down the street.

When the truck stops for another red light, the girl catches up again. She jumps out of her car, runs up and knocks on the door. Again, the trucker lowers the window. As if they've never spoken, the blonde says brightly,"Hi my name is Heather, and you are losing some of your load!"

Shaking his head, the trucker ignores her again and continues down the street.

At the third red light, the same thing happens again. All out of breath, the blonde gets out of her car, runs up, knocks on the truck door. The trucker lowers the window. Again she says "Hi, my name is Heather, and you are losing some of your load!"

When the light turns green the trucker revs up and races to the next light.

When he stops this time, he hurriedly gets out of the truck, and runs back to the blonde. He knocks on her window, and as she lowers it, he says...

"Hi, my name is Robert, it's winter in New Hampshire, and I'm driving the damn SALT TRUCK!

Thanks to my mother for forwarding this to me from Florida.

New Apostolic Letter on the Liturgy

There is a new on that I'm having a hard time finding online. But from other sources here is a snipet:

Pope John Paul said a lack of respect for the norms sometimes has led to "serious abuses" which cast a shadow over the mystery being celebrated and which cause concern and tensions among Catholics.

"Such abuses have nothing to do with the authentic spirit of the (Second Vatican) Council and must be corrected by pastors with an attitude of prudent firmness," he said, without specifying any particular abuse.

The pope said it is "more necessary than ever to increase the liturgical life within our communities," by educating Catholics about the meaning of the Mass and its various moments and their role as participants.

My How-To Book of the Mass would provide any religious educator out there with a great way to educate their parish communities.

This one was written in 1988, and giving how well it was followed there probably isn't much hope for the new one either. From the Apostolic Letter Vicesimus Quintus Annus on the twenty-fifth anniversary (today is the fourtieth anniversary.

Here is the link and a snipet, from

Apostolic Letter Vicesimus Quintus Annus:

"It cannot be tolerated that certain priests should take upon themselves the right to compose Eucharistic Prayers or to substitute profane readings for texts from Sacred Scripture. Initiatives of this sort, far from being linked with the liturgical reform as such, or with the books which have issued from it, are in direct contradiction to it, disfigure it and deprive the Christian people of the genuine treasures of the Liturgy of the Church.

It is for the bishops to root out such abuses, because the regulation of the Liturgy depends on the bishop within the limits of the law (61) and because “the life in Christ of his faithful people in some sense is derived from and depends on him”. (62)"

Further update: The new Apostolic Letter was circulated in Italian among participants at a conference held in Rome today commemorating the fortieth Anniversary of Document on the Sacred Liturgy. My guess it will be out in English in the next week or so.

Boston Archdiocese to Sell Bishop's Residence

Not surprising, and probably appropriate.

From / News / Local / Mass. / Diocese to sell residence:

The Archdiocese of Boston will sell one of its most symbolic and coveted properties, the ornate cardinal's residence in Brighton, and 28 surrounding acres to help pay the $85 million settlement with 540 victims of clergy sexual abuse, a spokesman for Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley said last night.

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

In Wheaton, Illinois Today

At the public library right now. No young people on the computers here, in fact plenty of empty man in his seventies next to me just staring that the timer (60 minute limit), I don't think he knows what to do. See Amy's post about my experiences at another library yesterday.

On my way to check out the Billy Graham museum at Wheaton.

Last night of the mission tonight...snow expected too, hopefully I'll be home before that hits.

Tuesday, December 2, 2003

At St. Procopius Abbey Today...

Another Benedictine monastery from a different congregation. Latched on to a school tour and got taken through the whole complex. Very interesting! Here's a link.

There is "Tour" at the bottom of the page I've linked to above.

Crowds Flock to See Newborn in Bethlehem

No, it ain't Jesus...

From Reuters:

A baby born in Bethlehem is drawing crowds by the thousands.

Palestinians in the West Bank town revered by Christians as Jesus's birthplace have been thronging to the adjacent Aida refugee camp for a glimpse of the 11-day-old infant many are calling a "miracle baby".

The boy has gained attention for being born with a large birthmark across his cheek that roughly forms in Arabic letters the name of his uncle, Ala, a Hamas militant killed by Israeli troops after he was alleged to have planned a suicide bombing.

The family, devout Muslims, called it a divine message of support for the Palestinians against Israel, though some local Christians preparing for subdued Christmas observances have quietly dismissed it as lacking any religious significance.

The Israeli army declined comment but one security source said: "It sounds very freaky". The family denied any hoax.

Monday, December 1, 2003

At Marmion Abbey Right Now

Just visiting, catching up with office email and working on my mission talks. Beautiful monastery, founded by monks at St. Meinrad (my alma mater).

Here is their website.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Pray for Success of Mission

I'm in Plano, Illinois today through Wednesday giving a mission. Please pray for the success of the mission.


Everyone Says Officials Were Horrible in FSU-Florida Game

I didn't see the game, but in the little Illinois town where I am the paper's two paragraph description includes a line "terrible officiating" that all went against Florida (and cost them at least 14 points). There was a near riot at the end of the game.

I look to Mike Biachi of the Orlando Sentinel for a little relief.

From The Orlando Sentinel:

"That's the worst [bleeping] officiating I've seen in my entire life," Florida offensive guard Shannon Snell said. "We're supposed to be cordial, but the way the game was called was b.s. They were definitely biased. I can see one or two bad calls, but it happened at least five times. They took the game away from us."

When told that the officials were pelted with debris when they left the field, Snell scoffed, "They deserved it."

Added UF offensive tackle Max Starks: "It's hard to win when it's 17 playing 11."

OK, so Starks' math is a little off. Actually, there are seven officials on a crew, which means the Gators were actually outnumbered 18 to 11. Or so it seemed.

The controversy started on the opening kickoff when it appeared FSU return man Antonio Cromartie fumbled, but the officials ruled Cromartie down. A short time later, on another kickoff, Cromartie again fumbled, but officials ruled Florida was offside. On one series later in the first half, there were three times when officials disallowed potential Florida State fumbles. Three times in one series.

In the second half, it appeared as if Florida running back Ciatrick Fason might have been down before he fumbled, but officials ruled Florida State recovered and returned it for a touchdown. Meanwhile, Florida State running back Leon Washington fumbled near Florida's goal line later in the game and UF linebacker Channing Crowder came out of the pile with it, but officials gave the ball to FSU.

"I had it right from the start," Crowder said. "I had the ball in my arms, but they gave it to FSU."

Obviously, Florida had Chris Rix in a fourth-and-14 late in the game and allowed the Seminoles to convert. And that had nothing to do with officiating. Obviously, P.K. Sam caught the game-winning 52-yard touchdown with 55 seconds left. And that had nothing to do with officiating. And, obviously, the officials didn't miss every one of those controversial calls.

But how often does every questionable call go against one team?

I'm not positive who the officials were Saturday, but I believe their names were Terry Bowden, Tommy Bowden, Timmy Bowden and Tony Bowden. And I can't swear to this, but I think I saw the field judge leaving the game Saturday riding a horse and carrying a flaming spear. And I'm still a little fuzzy on this, but I believe I saw the head linesman signal that it was Florida State ball by doing a tomahawk chop.

I'm kidding, of course, but there are certainly questions today regarding the allegiance of game officials. This is a problem that could easily be solved by just contracting officials from a neutral conference to call big games pitting teams from different leagues. Many times there are $15 million BCS bowl bids riding on the outcome of these games, so why not eliminate even the appearance of favoritism?

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Woman Knocked Unconscious By Wal-Mart Shoppers

And it being the day after Thanksgiving, we might presume "heavy" shoppers. When you hear this Sunday's Gospel reflect on the warning of Jesus, "do not let your hearts become drowsy"...Christmas has become the antithesis of Christmas. - News - Woman Knocked Unconscious By Wal-Mart Shoppers

Friday, November 28, 2003

Shootings in Columbus

Over ten confirmed so far, one death. The latest hit was yesterday.

From - More reports of cars possibly shot near Ohio highway:

A law enforcement task force already was investigating the shootings on or near a stretch of Interstate 270, the highway that circles Columbus, and extra law enforcement were sent to patrol the area on Thursday.

The first shooting was reported in May and others had come in the past 6 1/2 weeks in the area just south of Columbus. On Tuesday, Gail Knisley, 62, was killed when a bullet ripped through the driver's door of the car she was riding in on I-270.

Authorities are investigating 10 shootings in all, including one confirmed Thursday, said Franklin County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Steve Martin. Three new reports of cars possibly being shot at were ruled out.

Good Move by the President

The President's secret trip to Iraq was a good move, both for the morale of the troops but also for his presidency.

From - President's visit pumps up troops:

"Troops preparing for a Thanksgiving dinner in a chow hall here had a different surprise Thursday: Their holiday dinner was served by President Bush, who moments earlier had secretly flown into Baghdad International Airport on a darkened Air Force One.

'I've never been so surprised,' said Pvt. Stephen Henderson, 19, of Inglewood, Calif., with the 1st Armored Division. 'I feel uplifted. I almost forgot I was even here.'

The soldiers gathered for Thanksgiving dinner were expecting speeches from Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and Paul Bremer, the top civil administrator in Iraq."

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Pope Receives "Courtesy" Visit from Dalai Lama

They only discussed religous topics. Since one of the claims of the Dalai Lama is that he is the "son of God", I wonder what they discuss? This is one of the marvels of the modern church...

News From the Vatican and About the Vatican

Happy Thanksgiving!

Give thanks to God for all the blessings you've received, both those you can see as blessings and those that have yet to reveal themselves as blessings.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Virgin Mary tree causes media frenzy

Yes, there is a picture. - Virgin Mary tree causes media frenzy

Pilgrims are stopping at a tree they say features the likeness of the Virgin Mary. The Lord may work in mysterious ways but a tree in Ridgeview Burial Park?

A gnarled ash tree, across from the cemetery office, caused a sensation Friday among believers who say the scar in the bark is a dead ringer for the Blessed Virgin.

“It sure does look like her from here,” said Sam Bucci, township trustee, as he stood about 20 feet east of the tree. “I’ve been here 100 times and never noticed it, but it does look like her.”


From News From the Vatican and About the Vatican:

"On Sunday, November 23, the process of the beatification of Albino Luciani, John Paul I, was opened with a solemn liturgy in the cathedral of Belluno, Italy. John Paul I was pope for thirty-three days.

The ceremony was presided by Bishop Vincenzo Savio of Belluno-Feltre, Italy. Among those present were Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Bishop Alfredo Magarotto of Vittorio Veneto, a delegation from the patriarchate of Venice, as well as the deceased pope’s brother, Berto, and several nieces and nephews.

Albino Luciani was born in 1912 in Forno di Canale, Italy, now known as Canale d’Agordo. He was ordained a priest in 1935 and was appointed bishop of Vittorio Veneto by Blessed John XXIII in 1958. In 1969, Paul VI appointed him as the patriarch of Venice and in 1973 he was created a cardinal. After the death of Paul VI, he participated in the conclave in which he was elected as the successor of Peter on August 26, 1978. On September 28, only 33 days after his election, he died."

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Amy Welborn and Michael Dubruiel's Books

Amy's new bookstore is launched!

Autographed books make a great gift! Check her books and mine out at:Amy Welborn and Michael Dubruiel's Books

New Bishop in Phoenix

I know Catholics in Wichita will hate to see him go. In a year of extensive traveling around the U.S., I was in Wichita for a few days back in January, very vibrant Church there!

From - Your Biloxi Everything Guide:

"Pope John Paul II on Tuesday named Wichita, Kan., Bishop Thomas Olmsted as leader of the Roman Catholic diocese of Phoenix, filling the vacancy left by the resignation of Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien in June.

O'Brien resigned two days after being arrested on charges of leaving the scene of a June 14 accident that killed a pedestrian. His trial is expected to begin on Jan. 12.

The 56-year-old Olmsted has been serving in Wichita since Feb. 18, 1999, first as coadjutor and then as bishop of the diocese.

He studied at the North American College in Rome, the American seminary, and received a degree in church law from the Pontifical Gregorian University."

Latest Odds on the Next Pope

Tettamanzi is the favorite, followed by Ortega y Alamino, Arinze, Battista Re and Biffi.

From Next Pope Odds | Next Pope Betting

Monday, November 24, 2003

How To Hear a Great Homily Every Time You're at Mass

I wrote about this in The How-To Book of the Mass, giving a concrete way to do it. A friend who has put it into practice told me about a week ago that it had worked for him at every Mass that he had attended until last Sunday when the priest spent the entire time lambasting various bishops and political decisions made by Bush and the Congress. This Sunday he said the pastor apologized for the remarks fo the visiting priest (recently ordained) for as he said, "not preaching a homily but giving his opinion." Therein lies the problem when priests confuse their role, essentially writing opinion columns and delivering them orally rather than preaching the Gospel.

All of this is on my mind since I'm preaching a mission next week. Any time you have the opportunity to speak to people it is a blessed moment and one that you don't want to squander on your ego. I ask your prayers for this mission and as I make final changes to the talks that I'm giving, please pray for the Lord's guidance.

Speaking of homilies and trying to hear a great one, yesterday was the Feast of Christ the King and the homily I heard told me that I don't like having kings in my life (a blanket statement made by the homilist who once stated to me in private that the biggest problem in the Church today is people don't like the hierarchy, which may or may not be true, sometimes I think it is more a case of we want to like the hierarchy very much and want them to act like a hierarchy taking bold stands against the culture of death, against those who dilute the faith). I for one, think my problem is more a choice of who is "king" of my life, who is "lord" of my life? Is it pleasure? Is it myself or another person?

I think the answer is different for all of us. I have known people who never are themselves, but constantly seek to please whoever they deem to be the "king" or "lord" of the moment. We all can be tempted when faced with the choice between the man with the crown of thorns or our personal "king" to say with the crowd, "We have no king but....(fill in the blank)."

So, sometimes even when you think you've heard a real bad homily, if in the end it has caused you to reflect on the Gospel more--then God has worked his miracle through the homilist and in fact you've heard a great homily once again!

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Attackers Slit Throats of American Soldiers

One news agency reported this story this morning as "two American soldiers were killed in a traffic accident near Baghdad International Airport"--I'd say this was hardly an accident.

From My Way News:

Attackers slit the throats of two American soldiers who were waiting in traffic in this northern Iraqi city on Sunday, witnesses said. Another soldier was killed in a roadside bombing north of Baghdad.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Congratulations to Auxiliary Bishop Elect Felipe Estevez

Named by Pope John Paul II today to be an Auxilary Bishop in Miami. I've known him since 1980 when I visited Saint Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. He was the Rector at the time and took me outside as the sun was setting and said the memorable words, "Mike, this is Florida!"

A few years ago, I was visiting the Seminary and he recounted a fascinating nugget when I told him I was now living in Fort Wayne, IN--this Cuban born man had grown up in Fort Wayne! He also was ordained a priest for a Cuban diocese in abstentia in the Cathedral in Fort Wayne. Its a small world!

He'll make a great bishop!

Archdiocese Found Guilty of Failing to Report Abuse

Part of the Prosecuting Attorney's Statement...

From :

"Hold them accountable.

Make sure this doesn't happen again.

I cannot tell you how many times or how many people have said that to me over the last year. But they were not talking about a serial rapist, or a multiple murderer, or the vicious rioters who brought our city to its knees.

They were talking about one of the most respected and revered institutions in our county - the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

And the depth of the public's anger and frustration with the leadership of the Catholic Church rivals that expressed to me about any case since I have been prosecutor.

I can tell you today that we have done exactly what the citizens of Hamilton County and this office felt was required. We have held them accountable, and we have taken steps to make sure what took place in the Catholic Church over the last several decades will not happen again. "

Grave of Simeon?

Interesting find in Jerusalem.

From Gospel verse found on ancient shrine:

"The inscription says the monument is the tomb of “Simeon who was a very just man and a very devoted old (person) and waiting for the consolation of the people.” Simeon is a Greek version of Simon.

The passage is identical to the Gospel verse Luke 2:25, as it appears in a 4th-century version of the Bible, the Codex Sinaiticus, which was later revised extensively.

“This (the inscription) shows there were different versions of the Old and New Testament going around,” said Zias, who presented his find Thursday at the annual conference of the American Schools of Oriental Research in Atlanta.

The Zachariah and Simon inscriptions were chiseled into what is known today as Absalom’s Tomb, one of three large funerary monuments built in the Kidron Valley for the city’s rich."

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Pretending to be Catholic--In Order to Save Your Life

I'm working on talks for my upcoming mission and illustrations for the talks. One of the most remarkable people that I have come to befriend in the past few years is someone who for a period of her life pretended to be Catholic in order to save her life. She is a Polish Jew who growing up in Poland in the late 1930's literally survived the horrors of the Nazi occupation by pretending to be Catholic. She was given a fake Baptismal Certificate, a Christian name, and she attended Mass regularly (Communion was not a problem in the pre-conciliar church because hardly anyone received regularly). Much later in life she became close friends with a fellow Pole (besides me that is) who just happens to be the Pope. In a correspondence with her, one of his recurring messages to her, is that she "be herself" and I find this remarkable because of her early history where survival was only possible by not being herself but pretending to be someone else. Even though she is a Jew the Pope is very Christian in his correspondence to her, he recommends her to the Blessed Virgin Mary, wishes her well on Jewish feasts as well as those connected to Christ, he even sends her a piece of his Oplatek, Na szczescie, na zdrowie z Wigilia!.

She has written a book about Him and her own experiences entitled Building Bridges: Pope John Paul II and the Horizon of Life.

What strikes me about Lena's story is how many of us are pretending to be Catholic in our own day? And why?

I often wonder when I hear people talk about what they believe and what they do not believe and wonder why they remain Catholic if they really don't believe? The amazing thing I have learned from my experiences with Dr. Allen-Shore is that she believes more about the Catholic faith than many who say they are Catholic. She once pretended to be Catholic in order to save her life and perhaps in the end all of us our pretending to be Catholic so that we too might save our lives. But is "pretending" going to be enough in the end?

If we followed the Pope's advice to Lena to "be ourself" would we be something else? I know deep down that when the Pope tells Lena to be herself that he knows that she is a follower of Christ. That something in her early years catechized her to the truth of the Gospel and it has never left her. And I truly believe that if each of us was the person that God created us to be, namely ourself, we too would hear the truth of the Gospel and coming to Christ in the Eucharist would be something that would enable us to become even more truly who we are!